“Peter Rabbit” (Columbia)
By Catholic News Service
The anthropomorphic characters in Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s books are showcased but also transformed in this manic comedy, a mix of live action and CGI animation directed and co-written by Will Gluck.
The eponymous bunny (voice of James Corden), here a fast-talking juvenile delinquent, a hipster dude with a nasty murderous streak, is elated when the mean gardener (Sam Neill) next door kicks the bucket, allowing him and his furry friends access to his vegetables and cottage. When the deceased’s grandnephew (Domhnall Gleeson) moves in and falls for his comely neighbor (Rose Byrne), the rabbits once more declare war.
The film does impart some of the lessons of Potter’s books, including the importance of family, honesty and forgiveness. But Gluck and script collaborator Ron Lieber cannot resist the ill-mannered behavior, low-brow jokes, and noisy eruptions that seem to be staples in children’s films today, setting a discordant tone contrary to Potter’s elegant style.
A vengeance theme, a glimpse of partial rear nudity, some rude humor and action sequences. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.